11:41 AM

Wexner Medical Center to open healthy community center in former MLK library

Expanding its efforts to address pressing health needs in central Ohio, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center plans to open a healthy community center in the Near East Side neighborhood of Columbus. The center will be in the former Columbus Metropolitan Library Martin Luther King Jr. branch.

“Ohio State is invested in creating health communities throughout central Ohio. This new center will be a valuable community resource to support lifestyle changes that will transform the health of our community one family at a time,” said David McQuaid, chief executive officer of The Ohio State University Health System.

Initially, the focus of the center will be on decreasing obesity and chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Plans could include a demonstration kitchen to host healthy cooking classes, nutrition counseling, diabetes and weight management education, and stress management. The center will be a business incubator for a café that serves healthful foods.

“The community center will supplement the clinical services we offer at East Hospital and Outpatient Care East,” said Elizabeth Seely, chief administrative officer of the Hospitals Division for Ohio State’s Health System. “We have a vested and growing interest in the health needs of area residents and decreasing risk factors for chronic disease.”

According to the 2016 Franklin County Health Map, 30.7 percent of adults and 19.8 percent of children in Franklin County are obese. This is higher than the national average of 27.6 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively.

Ohio State will form a community advisory committee composed of area stakeholders to refine the vision for the center and to ensure it meets the complex needs of the community. Other community health initiatives include annual Healthy Community Days at East Hospital and the Schottenstein Center with free health screenings and consultations; the Health Sciences Academies partnership with PACT and Columbus City Schools to immerse students in grades Pre-K through 12 at seven schools in health sciences curriculum, mentoring and experiential learning; community health gardens; and clinics for the underserved.

Purchase of the former MLK branch for $245,000 will be finalized in early 2019. It will undergo renovation in 2019 and open to the public in 2020. Cost estimates for renovating the structure will be determined during the design process.